This post originally appeared on the blog Being Teacher.
The other day I was sitting at the small group table watching my students work. I’ve always enjoyed watching their fresh faces working diligently, or sometimes not so diligently.
The lamp highlighted a boy’s young features perfectly as he concentrated on his assignment. Something about his features reminded me how our children are not mini-adults. Apart from the obvious physical differences (no matter the age of your students or children), it’s that their brains work differently. I know they think differently — definitely not the same as mine as an adult. Their brains are fundamentally and structurally different.
As a teacher, I need to know these things. Which I do, obviously, but I also need to remember them. I need to remember how their brains work. We teachers are trained in developmental stages. We know what they’re capable of understanding and how to manage their behavior.
But sometimes, we don’t know how they think.
Thankfully, I have a little tool called the Top 5. So this week, for morning work I allowed 50 students to share the Top 5 things they wanted grown-ups to remember about being child.
Prepare yourself to be amazed. They were so unflinchingly honest and amazingly real. Their answers are insightful and enlightening. You’ll gain a little perspective on your students, and maybe your own children at home.
Here’s a Top 15 list of the most popular and interesting “Things Kids Wish Adults Knew About Being a Kid”:
15. “Tell me how to fix my mistakes, don’t yell at me.”
14. “We aren’t less than you.”
13. “We think differently.”
12. “I’m not you.”
11. “Parents forget what you said 5 minutes after you said it.”
10. “You can’t read my mind.”
9. “You don’t want a whole speech when you’ve done something wrong.”
8. “We can’t do things in a flash.”
7. “Don’t interrupt us when we’re talking.”
6. “You don’t like hearing ‘because I said so’ either”.
5. “We don’t catch on right away.”
4. “It takes us longer to do stuff.”
3. “We aren’t perfect.”
2. “We can’t remember everything.”
1. “Let us pick out our own clothes.”
That list shows me how I can be not the best teacher or parent. I need to remember they’re not perfect, they don’t remember everything (so I shouldn’t say “I told you 5 times already”!), and I can’t read their minds no matter how tempting it is to assume I “know what they’re thinking.”
So I need to be more patient and kind. But, more than anything, I should treat my students as I would want them to treat me. They deserve as much respect as we adults do. They are beautiful and sacred beings sent into our care for a very short time. Let’s listen.
Brooke Hamby began her professional career with a doctorate in anthropology, teaching and writing in pursuit of her first love: understanding the human experience. Soon after the birth of her son, Brooke’s human experience changed, as she sought a career where she could make a difference in the lives of children, “sacred beings” to her way of thinking. After getting her Master’s in education, Brooke turned her love of children into becoming a classroom teacher and instructional coach. Brooke devotes her spare time to contributing resources to Teachers Pay Teachers, and writing about the teaching life at Being Teacher, helping other teachers realize their fullest potential.